Bologna has a series of nicknames: ‘la Dotta' meaning ‘the
learned' derived from the fact its an ancient university city; ‘la
Rossa' meaning ‘the red' which refers to its politics rather
than to its red-brick buildings; and ‘la Grassa' meaning ‘the
fat' which comes from the inhabitants reputation of appreciating good
food and wine.
Medieval Bologna is one
of the most civilised cities in Europe. It has elegant palaces,
arcaded streets, superb cuisine, youthful population, a vibrant
art scene and an efficient public transport. The citizens are helpful
and charming, and proud of their heritage but not precious. It is
a city of piazzas and porticoes.
Bologna has been a centre for learning since the
7th century. In 1088 the city's famous law school was founded. The
city is bound by 14th century walls and can be entered through any
one of twelve impressive gates. It is a pioneering city being, for
example, the first to introduce pedestrian precincts and permit
gay couples to apply for communal housing.
A great way to get your bearings is to climb the
Torre degli Asinelli, one of the two towers that lean drunkenly
at the foot of Via Rizzoli, just to the south of the old Jewish
Ghetto, from where it's possible to get an amazing view of the city's
The main square, Piazza Maggiore stands at the
heart of the city. One of the grandest palaces with a Renaissance
façade is the Palazzo del Podestà, facing which is
the looming bulk of San Petronio, one of the largest churches in
Christendom, founded in 1390.
There are no casinos is Bologna but there
are numerous clubs and bars, and entertainments for all occasions,
including live music, opera and theatre.